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5 Top Strength Training Exercises To Shrink Your 'Apron Belly'

Do you have a somewhat stubborn, saggy abdominal area? These exercises will help tighten and tone.

If you like to stay on top of your health and fitness game, there are a few things you need to know. For instance, do you have a somewhat stubborn, saggy abdominal area? If you've lost weight or have gone through pregnancy, it's quite possible that you do. Listen up, because we spoke to an expert who came up with five top strength training exercises you can do to get rid of your "apron belly." Yes, there's a name for it—and you can totally take steps to work on that area.

Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss Get Rid of Hanging Belly Fat With This Cardio & Strength Workout.

What is an apron belly?

woman holding belly fat

Let's learn exactly what an apron belly—also known as a panniculus—is. Eat This, Not That! spoke with Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a member of our Medical Expert Board and a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach who has helped develop the Body Program at Ro. Dr. Bohl describes this condition as an extra layer of fat that hangs over the waistline from the belly.

"The two main causes of developing an apron belly are pregnancy and weight gain. Rapid weight loss can also cause a panniculus to form, because the skin might not retract as quickly as the fat was lost, so the excess skin hangs down from the abdomen," Dr. Bohl explains.

How can strength training help you get rid of an apron belly?

If you have an apron belly, your first thought may be, okay I will exercise and lose weight in that area. Unfortunately, it's not possible to target weight loss in one specific area of your body— which is known as "spot reduction." What happens instead is weight loss occurs throughout your entire body, not just in one particular area. Hence, you can't zone in on exercises to specifically address an apron belly, but you can lose body fat all over, which includes your belly.

"Exercises that cause you to burn more calories than you consume in a day will help you lose weight overall, and this can eventually reduce an 'apron belly.' In some cases, an apron belly may be able to go away completely on its own after the fat is lost and the skin is able to retract. However, in some cases, the excess skin doesn't retract, and a surgery called a panniculectomy can be done to remove it," Dr. Bohl points out.

Since it's essential to lose weight overall if you want to shrink your apron belly, it's most efficient to perform strength training exercises, choosing those that burn the highest number of calories.

Dr. Bowl recommends, "This can generally be done by working out larger muscle groups or by working out several muscle groups at the same time. Doing cardio exercise can also facilitate weight loss, and it's important to follow a diet as well so you are consuming fewer calories than you burn."

Creating a calorie deficit is key here, along with consistency. You can reach your goal before you know it!

7 Top-Recommended Compound Exercises To Melt Belly Fat

These are the best exercises to get rid of an apron belly.

fitness woman performing squats outdoors in sunshine

Here are the strength training exercises Dr. Bohl suggests adding to your routine. Doing them regularly will give many muscle groups a solid workout at the same time, and can help you get rid of your apron belly for good.

1. Pushups

This classic exercise targets the upper body but also requires you to contract muscles throughout your body. According to the NASM, to set up for pushups, you'll begin with your hands just outside the distance of your shoulder span at the level of your chest. Keep your feet hip-width distance apart. Bring your belly button inward and maintain a tight core. Then, lower your body to the ground so that it's almost touching. With your hands flat, push away from the floor until your arms are straight.

2. Pull-ups

Pull-ups also target the upper body, including many muscles in your back and your arms. To set up, hold onto a pull-up bar. Pull yourself up until your chin goes slightly above the bar. Then, with control, descend until both arms are totally straight.

3. Squats

Squats, in addition to lunges and deadlifts, really work the large muscles in your legs and your glutes. To set up, place your feet a bit wider than hip-width distance apart. Hinge your hips back, keep your chest tall, and descend into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, push into your heels to come back up to standing.

4. Deadlifts

There are various ways to perform deadlifts. You can work with a kettlebell, barbell, or set of dumbbells. If you opt for dumbbells, PureGym instructs you to have one in each hand, making sure your palms face in. Keep your core tight and your spine neutral to establish some tension. Then, hinge your hips back, and bring the dumbbells down your legs toward the floor. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press through your feet to come back up to standing.

5. Lunges

Last but not least, it's time to wrap up these exercises to shrink your apron belly with lunges. When it comes to lunges, there are so many variations you can do, from forward lunges to jumping lunges to reverse lunges to lateral lunges.

If you're doing a forward lunge, bring one leg forward and descend into a lunge, lowering your back leg toward the floor. Make sure to maintain solid form and posture throughout this exercise. Press through your heel to rise back up. Then, bring your back leg forward to complete a lunge on your other side.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa